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Rock drills - made in South Africa


Published in: Mining Magazine
Date: 3/1/1995

Boart Longyear SECO is the world's largest manufacturer of pneumatic rock drills and supplies a lion's share of around 90% of the market in South Africa, 80% in Canada and increasingly exports to Sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa. Formerly SECO (Steel Engineering Company), Boart Longyear SECO (the name was changed from Boart SECO on January 1, 1995) is a division of the Anglo American Investment Corporation (AMIC) and has its administrative headquarters and manufacturing plant at Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg. SECO was incorporated in 1982 into the Boart International Group, which has 60 subsidiary companies in 28 countries and 40 manufacturing plants worldwide employing some 10,000 people.

The managing director of Boart Longyear SECO, Brian S. Richardson, recently outlined the company's successes, aims and future plans to Mining Magazine. Brian Richardson moved to head the company in June, 1994 from Boart MSA where he was managing director. He is a chartered accountant by profession and he has had 12 years service with various subsidiaries in the Boart Group.

Around 470 people work at the plant and administrative offices. There are more than 450 machine tools on the shop floor, many of them equipped with sophisticated computer controls. Modern personnel management is practised: team briefings and the dissemination of production information take place daily in special 'Green Areas'. Excellent working relationships are evident - boding well in the new climate of common citizenship for all races in South Africa.

The 'Crosby' philosophy of 'Total Quality Management' (TQM) was introduced in 1989, with the objectives of 'Total Value Concept' and 'Zero Defects'. Production procedures were streamlined and rationalised, and rejection rates reduced significantly. The new system was introduced by training all ranks of employees from management downwards, followed by a 're-dedication' programme. The suppliers of components and materials were introduced to the new philosophy and customer's requirements were re-assessed. Since the system was introduced many productivity and quality improvements have been achieved. Early in 1994 the company became the first in the Boart International Group to be awarded ISO 9001 and SECO is listed in the Technology Top 100 companies in South Africa. An NOSA Five Star rating for safety at the workplace was granted. The Anglo-American Corporation awarded an 'A-Grade' as a supplier, General Mining gave a 'Service Merit Award' and an 'Excellence Award' was won in Canada.

The bulk of manufacture consists of pneumatic rock drilling machines and important processes are machining, heat treatment and quality control. A sample is included in every batch of heat-treated components to test in the metallurgical laboratories for carbon content and hardness. A microscopic inspection of the inner and outer car-burised zones is also carried out. The pneumatic drills manufactured include a range of handheld machines such as the S215, a 70 mm diameter machine much used in South Africa, and the S250, a 90 mm jackleg or stoper machine which is by far the most popular pneumatic rock-drill in Canada. The new lightweight NOVA on a jackleg has an independent rotation airmotor and gearbox: a batch of these was subjected to an extended and successful trial at the Elandsrand gold mine. The independent rotation motor provides high torques and penetration rates and compared with the equivalent machine, the S215, they have an 84% higher performance and a power/weight ratio increased by more than 20%. Around 1,200 m can be drilled before maintenance is necessary, three times the average in South Africa for standard pneumatic stope drills.

Three sizes of pneumatic drifter are offered. The S36 with independent rotation is very popular in Canada for mounting on carriers such as the Boart Canada BCI-2 Stopemaster for long holes, cable bolting and drop raising: more than 300 have been sold. The larger S140RD drifter has gained much acceptance as a rig-mounted surface or shaft sinking machine.

Single and double telescopic airlegs are made with extensions from 0.36 m to 1.3 m for stoping and development drilling. A new type is the 'Polyleg', which is made of lightweight, rugged, high density plastic instead of the usual aluminium: it cannot therefore be easily dented or deformed and cannot cause a spark when abraded. Burst tests proved that the 'Polyleg' cylinder ruptured at 4.5 MPa, ten times more than the pressure likely to be encountered. Dent tests showed that the 'Polyleg' could with- stand impact energies five times greater than those withstood by aluminium legs.

Drill carriages assembled at the factory include stope and wagon pneumatic rigs and the hydraulic Mk 2 Unimaster and Mk 2 Multimaster rigs. The hydraulic rigs have a common chassis which can fit one or two booms and one or two 45 kW hydraulic power packs depending on the number of booms; a Deutz F6L 912W diesel engine provides tramming speeds up to 10 km/h. A number of products are obtained from Boart U.K.: these include the HD65, HD125 and HD150 hydraulic drifters as well as feeds and booms.

In October, 1993 Boart SECO purchased the utility vehicle division of Southern Denver Company in South Africa. This has added a range of special purpose mine and construction vehicles to the SECO list: three cassette carriers, three mine dumpers, a roll-on-roll-off carrier and a multi-purpose transporter. These machines were ruggedly designed for local African conditions and there are more than 250 units operating throughout Southern Africa.

On April 11, 1994, Boart International and Reedrill Inc. in the U.S. announced an arrangement for global cooperation, agreeing to represent each other in various markets. Reedrill and Boart Canada already had a joint marketing arrangement for rock drilling tool consumables in various geographical areas. Reedrill Inc. had previously purchased the Gardner-Denver hydraulic, pneumatic and rotary drill products and Reedrill's range now includes Gardner-Denver hydraulic and pneumatic rock drills, Reedrill and Gardner-Denver rotary blasthole drills and Texoma foundation and utility auger drills. This extensive list of product lines is now marketed by Boart Longyear SECO in Africa. The company has also entered into agreements to be the representative in Southern Africa of Cubex and its range of longhole and in-the-hole hammer rigs, and for the Gardner-Denver range of rotary screw compressors.

Brian Richardson confirmed that Boart SECO does not intend to rest on its hard-won laurels, but will take full advantage of the new opportunities opening up to manufacturers in South Africa and will demonstrate that it has the product design, quality and price to compete in a global market place. A low growth market in South Africa and Canada has necessitated a hard look at developing new products, technologies and markets.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Mining Journal Ltd.

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